Social Media in Business
Social media comes in a number of different forms from apps to web sites. Most people are familiar with the common ones such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus, and approximately 1.04 billion of us use Facebook daily*. But using social media for business can be a different ball game to using it for personal use, and there are a few rules you should be following.
1. Think before you post
When you post a photo on your personal profile, your friends can see it and it reflects on you personally. The same applies to business profiles too, except your customers (including potential ones) can see what you post. If its not appropriate for your audience or could be seen in a different light to whats intended, dont post it.
2. Use a different profile
Its one of the most logical rules, but many beginners forget about it - keep your business separate from your personal profile. This allows you to target your customers and maintain a brand image too. The tone of the business can reflect what the business believes in, and separates you from it too.
3. Listen and communicate quickly and effectively
Social media opens a door to your customer base which allows you to communicate directly. Brands (including the big named brands) can often be seen answering queries, responding to complaints or having a general conversation with the audience. It allows you to show off the friendly and helpful side to your business. All it costs is a bit of time.
4. Avoid spamming your audience
Posting the same thing can be a good way to ensure your message it heard, but repeating it within minutes of each other will be off putting for your audience. Its also important to consider the social network when posting; Twitter for example, is a much faster-paced network, showing the most recent tweets, than Facebook that shows posts from a few days ago.
Also make sure the content is relevant - only post things which you believe are relevant to your audience or your business.
5. Dont use automated messages
By automated messages we mean the "Thanks for the follow - check out our website" sort of messages. While these can seem like a good idea, theyre just canned responses. If youre going to thank your followers, thank them personally and make them feel valued for following you.
According to Hoot Suite, some automation can be good, such as scheduling posts for times when youre away, or just to ensure theres always fresh content on your profile. However, when it comes to communicating directly with your audience (replying to comments or thanking them for their follow), it can have the opposite effect to the one you intended.
6. Use hashtags (but dont overuse them)
Hashtags are a great way to help new users find your content, but ensuring they are the right ones for your message is important. Dont use too many either otherwise your message becomes cluttered and its true value may not be seen by the audience.
Hashtags can also be used to join in conversations with other brands and users too, so try to do a bit of research on which ones you should be using. If you dont have room for hashtags, consider geo-tagging your messages. Instagram for example allows you to tag your photos with a location, appealing to a local audience. This helps with smaller businesses who may be based in the local high street.
7. Dont follow for followers or likes
Many users consider followers or likes as a key factor to whether their social network is performing, but with so many automated following services, its difficult to gauge how many of these are true followers. You should follow accounts that benefit you, for example competitors, market leaders, clients.
8. Keep it professional
This very much fits with all the above points, but remember that your profile is a part of your business. Your audience will see your profiles as a reflection of your business - so use it in the way you want to be seen.
These are just a few general guidelines you should take into consideration with your social media profiles. Remember that each business is different and you should tailor your use to your audience.
* Daily average active users in December 2015. Source: http://newsroom.fb.com/company-info/
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